It’s World Aids Day on 1 December and GMFA – the gay men’s health charity – along with many leading voices in the community, has launched a new petition to Sadiq Khan to finally introduce an AIDS Memorial in London, remembering those lost to the virus since 1983.
Life-saving treatments have now begun to transform HIV from a no-hope condition into something much more manageable. It’s wonderful that people newly diagnosed with HIV today can expect a normal life expectancy, provided the virus is detected early and they receive treatment.
But I was amazed to hear that London, which bore the brunt of the Aids epidemic in those terrible early days, still doesn’t have a memorial to those thousands who died here. Brighton and Manchester have Aids memorials, as do countless cities around the world, so why not London?
As new infections remain high, especially among young gay and bisexual men in London, a lasting memorial would be a valuable tool for health educators as well as a fitting way of remembering.
Ian Howley, Interim CEO for GMFA, says: “It’s been over 30 years since we saw the first case of AIDS in the UK. Since then thousands of men and women have died from the disease. It’s time that we remember those that we have lost.”
I pledged support for this initiative as part of my manifesto in May, and I’m fully behind this new push. Please sign the petition, which I’ll be presenting at the London Assembly meeting on 7 December.
And follow the progress of the campaign on Twitter: @AidsMemoryUK